How to survive a New York business trip

We've all dreamed of making it in New York, of sitting on terrace steps in Brooklyn on a dreamy summer's afternoon, exploring the rows of perfectly manicured streets in Manhattan, of seeing the awe-inspiring skyline from Top of the Rock.

But with a population 18 million strong, navigating this concrete jungle isn't always a walk in Central Park - especially when it comes to the competitive business world. With that in mind, here are a few pointers to make your next New York business trip a huge success.

A Map of New York

New York is a BIG place. You have the Bronx to the north, Staten Island resting against the New Jersey border to the west, and Brooklyn and Queens sitting a subway-ride away to the east.

Each district has its own distinct flavour and exploring all is a highlight for leisure travellers. But if you're here for business, you'll find everything you need in cosmopolitan Manhattan.

The centre of New York City, Manhattan is home to many well-known landmarks such as Broadway's Theatre District, Wall Street, Central Park and Times Square, to name a few.

It's also the financial centre of the world, with a GDP of over US$1.55 trillion (that’s bigger than the entire country of Australia). In Manhattan, you’ll be rubbing shoulders with top-notch lawyers, accountants, marketers, creatives and experts from pretty much any field imaginable, making it the perfect place for business.

Manhattan's Streets and Avenues

Even narrowing New York down to Manhattan can be pretty overwhelming, especially if you're used to a CBD ten-streets wide.

There’s a plethora of familiar-sounding neighbourhoods to discover - from living it up like Blair Waldorf on the Upper East Side, exploring Friends' Central Perk café in Greenwich Village, or checking out Brooklyn Bridge in Lower Manhattan.

While its sheer size can intimidate a humble, first-time business traveller, the organised rows of streets and avenues should make life a little easier.

Streets are numbered from south to north, making a grid with similarly ordered avenues running east to west. This perfectly planned grid - with Central Park fittingly in the middle - is your key to navigating the city. If you're lost (or running late to a meeting), simply use the street signs as a guide to your destination.

New York’s Airports

New York has three main airports - John F Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark.

While all have their differences, one key theme ties them together - their less-than-average reputation. But fear not, there are a few ways you can beat NYC’s questionable airports.

John F Kennedy Airport

JFK is one of biggest and busiest airports in the United States. In fact, it's so large that rather than an address, this southern area of Queens in not-quite-Brooklyn has its own zip code.

With its sheer size in mind, your biggest struggle will be the infamous immigration lines. And trust us, adding more travel time to your already 20+ plus hour flight schedule is not the best way to spend your time in NYC.

Catering to a large variety of international airlines (including Qantas), ‘low peak’ isn’t really a thing at JFK. Still, you can choose a flight that lands in a sweet spot. If you can’t find a lull in schedules, select a flight that lands before an incoming convoy. Getting a ten minute lead on the four flights chasing your tail can save you hours standing in line.

Once through immigration, you'll be a US$60 Uber ride into the heart of Manhattan. To avoid wearing out the corporate credit card, perhaps take the AirTrain to either Howard Beach or Sutphin Boulevard Station for the low price of US$7.50. From here, you'll be connected to New York's wider subway system that will guide you to your hotel. But be warned: you'll be hauling your luggage up hundreds of stairs that accompany NYC's underground.

LaGuardia Airport

If New York's famous for style, then being 'fashionably late' derived from LaGuardia airport. Notorious for its delays and cancellations, this airport might not be the best for the time-poor business traveller.

Luckily, it mainly serves short-haul, domestic trips, with very few west coast flights from LA or San Francisco landing here. But if you're flying from Australia via Dallas or Chicago, best double check your itinerary with your dedicated Travel Manager and plan accordingly. If it's absolutely unavoidable, best allow an extra day's travel time to be on the safe side.

On a positive note, getting into the heart of Manhattan is a redeeming quality for LaGuardia. Roughly 18 kilometres from Times Square, an Uber trip will only set you back US$30.

Alternatively, catching the Q70 bus to Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Ave subway station will only cost US$2.75. From here, you'll be connected to multiple subways and trains and can plan the rest of your trip using the MTA trip planner.

Newark Airport

The best and worst part about Newark Airport? It's in New Jersey.

No offence to New York's westernmost neighbour, but Newark Airport is as dull as they come, with the height of their culinary sophistication being a Dunkin Donuts outlet.

Still, Newark is only 25 kilometres from Manhattan, just a quick trip beneath the Hudson River through the Holland Tunnel (traffic pending, of course). But just like JFK and LaGuardia, it is well connected by public transport if you’re looking to save on taxi fees.

Mastering the Subway

Taxis and Uber are fine when you're fresh off the plane and not in the mood to battle public transport. But using it regularly in a city like New York? You'll meet gridlock traffic and a constant hum of car horns filling the rows of busy streets.

The cheapest, most efficient way to get around this jungle of skyscrapers lies underground, in NYC's famous subway system.

Although overwhelming to begin with, New York's subways are surprisingly easy to navigate. With the below pointers, you'll be riding the subway like a pro in no time.

Subway Fares

No matter if you’re travelling from Staten Island to Queens or Lower Manhattan to the Upper East side, you’ll pay a flat rate of US$2.75 with a city Metrocard. You can pick up a MetroCard at the airport, in subway stations’ vending machines or selected corner stores. Simply load your card up, and ride the subway to your heart’s content.

Although the subway map looks pretty complicated, you can check out the MTA trip planner before you leave your hotel. This way, you’ll have a direct route to wherever you want to go, including where to transfer and when.

Local Subway Tips

Allow for an hour of delays

Despite being the most reliable mode of transport, NYC’s subways still fall victim to delays. If you’re aiming to be 15 minutes early to a meeting, try leaving an extra hour than the MAT journey planner states. At worst, you have extra time to explore the nearby neighbourhood, with the peace of mind that you’re ahead of schedule.

Check the direction before hopping on

Rather than ‘North’ or ‘South’, subways often use Manhattan as a reference point. For this reason, ‘Uptown’ and ‘Downtown’ or the occasional ‘Bronx-bound’ and ‘Brooklyn-bound’ are used. They’re all pretty interchangeable, but you might need to double check you’re heading the right way before jumping on the subway. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself aimlessly wandering a neighbourhood in Queens, when you’re meant to be a block from Central Park in Manhattan.

Choose an end carriage

No surprise, the 24-hour subway line is always busy in the city that never sleeps. If you’re boarding on high traffic stations, such as Grand Central or Penn Street, expect to be standing on the platform for quite some time. As a local tip, head to the first or last carriage, where it’s less crowded. Away from the crowds, you might get on the first subway that comes or even better - a seat!

4-star hotels in Manhattan

Hilton New York Fashion District

If you're looking for something a little chic, then the Hilton New York Fashion District is the place for you. Located in the heart of the Fashion District on West 26th Street just off 7th Avenue, the Hilton is steps from the city's best dining and attractions with easy access to Penn Station. However if you don't want to move far, this hotel offers a full range of services from a restaurant and rooftop cocktail lounge to fitness and business centres. 

AKA Wall Street

For a luxe apartment in the Financial District check out AKA Wall Street. The great Downtown location puts you in the centre of world class cultural, dining and shopping experiences as well as a new public transport hub which makes getting around a breeze. These spacious apartments are designed for longer stays with each room complemented with residential amenities. Just like the Hilton, full-service hotel offerings are also available including a private cinema. 

Boutique Hotels in New York

11 Howard - Soho

If you're searching for the perfect boutique hotel for your business trip, then look no further than 11 Howard. Nestled in the heart of Soho, 11 Howard embodies the ultra-modern vibe you'd expect in this buzzing area of Manhattan.

Known for their 'thoughtful hospitality', guests can find every detail accounted for - from their careful selection of tasteful art pieces, the intentionally laid out suites, to the many amenities included. They even have their own co-working space, where you can set up office for the day in the chic, café-style 'Library'.

1 Hotel - Brooklyn Bridge

Just across the East River lies the luxurious 1 Hotel. With a direct view of Brooklyn Bridge, you'll be outside one of New York's most iconic sites, while just a short walk from happening Manhattan. Designed by local artists from reclaimed materials, this eco-conscious boutique hotel is a fresh escape from bustling Manhattan.

With a variety of spa treatments and an on-site gym, choosing 1 Hotel is great for travellers wanting to unwind after a hard day's work in NYC.

Sixty Hotel - Lower East Side

Few hotels balance luxury with minimalism like Sixty Hotel. With spectacular views of the skyline, indulgent rooms and suites, and a spa and pool to relax by, the Sixty Hotel ticks all the boxes. Best of all, you'll be in the Lower East Side, perfect for business and leisure alike.

A New Yorker’s Schedule

New Yorkers are FAST.

They talk fast. Walk fast. Eat fast. And most importantly - they conduct business fast. To a New Yorker, darting from point A to B in record speed isn't just a matter of urgency; it's a way of life.

Even if you can strut down 6th avenue like a local, finding a spot in a New Yorker's calendar can be a mission in itself. Luckily, there are a few ways to make an impact in the 'capital of the world.'

Try meeting in the mornings

No surprise, the city that never sleeps houses the world's largest population of early birds. This morning window is a great way to score quality time with clients before their day-to-day madness ensues.

As NYC isn't the most conventional city, why not incorporate their morning work-out and hold a walking meeting by the Hudson River? Or perhaps change up their morning coffee ritual and try one of Manhattan's best cafés.

Being smart and showing appreciation for their busy schedule is a great way to get a New Yorker’s attention.

Plan your trip around conferences and networking events

With their over-flowing calendars, New Yorkers are a lot less forgiving with their time. This makes connecting with the right people more important than ever.

A great way to save time is finding your tribe through key industry events; meeting with a highly engaged audience that won't whisk you through your hard-thought presentation or business idea.  

Even if they’re not potential clients, getting contacts and scoping out the business-scene first-hand can start your business trip on the right foot. A great place to start is the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, where you can network like a local at their many breakfasts and events.

The best restaurants for Business Travellers

f there’s one thing that rings true in New York’s business culture, it’s that deals happen over meals. Yes, this little nuance of New Yorker-ness means having a list of restaurants that suits a variety of clients. Here are a few of our favourites

King Restaurant

Dining to impress? The aptly named King Restaurant fits the bill (albeit, quite a sizey bill at that). Located on 6th Avenue, King’s modern, French-styled menu changes daily, keeping even a Manhattan local on their toes. From decadent duck confit during the day to mouth-watering lobster dishes in the evening, their simple but classic food is a highlight to travellers and locals alike.

If you’re looking for a more intimate feel, take advantage of King’s semi-private bar room. Here your group can enjoy a sophisticated 3-course meal, experiencing some of the best French cuisines Manhattan has on offer. But best book ahead of time - this Midtown gem is in high demand.

Le Relais de Venise

If you’re after a more down-to-earth affair, then you'll feel right at home at Le Relais De Venise. With franchises in Soho and Midtown Manhattan, this understated steakhouse comes with a set menu, perfect for the indecisive business traveller on the go.

Don't let its simplicity fool you, though; this gem is still a class act and has an elaborate wine menu, partly-explaining the irrepressible buzz in the room. With your hardest decision choosing from rare to well done, you can focus more on the task at hand, knowing your beautiful cut of steak is moments away.

L’Express

What would the city that never sleeps be without a classy, 24-hour restaurant? From escargot for brunch to mussels at midnight, this French-styled bistro is the perfect suggestion for a hard-to-tie down New Yorker.

New York’s Bars

Want to keep your meeting light? Perhaps swapping the fancy, white-linen tablecloths for an eclectic drinks menu is the way to go (it always is in our books, anyway).

Loosening up over a drink or five might be just what you need to connect with potential clients. And worst case scenario? You’ll get to take in the stunning skyline from rooftop bars that are so 'New York'. Here are a few of our picks:

Public Bar

Whether you want to be productive over coffee, or network the night away, few places rival the electric Public Bar in Lower Manhattan. With plenty of power outlets, a speedy WiFi connection, and a cocktail menu to suit any taste, Public’s Lobby Bar is the ideal place to collaborate in a more casual setting. Once the hard work's over, head up to ‘The Roof’ and take in panoramic views of the city's nightscape.

Refinery Rooftop Bar

Urban chic meets New York glam at Midtown’s Refinery Rooftop bar. Popular with both travellers and locals, you’ll feel right at home at this fashionable rooftop bar. With handcrafted cocktails, a direct lookout to the Empire State Building, and a retractable glass roof, this Manhattan treasure is suitable year round.

The Press Lounge

The Press Lounge mimics the effortless class of Manhattan while expressing the understated simplicity of greater New York. Picture spacious, private lounges scattered easily throughout the room, ceiling-high window panes framing views of the Hudson River and Manhattan skyline, and a glamorous terrace balcony providing the perfect meeting ground for all who visit.

If you’re looking for a secluded place to chat business, without taking away the fun, then the Press Club is the place to be. After savouring the view, sipping a seasonal cocktail or sharing a bottle of local New York wine is a sure-fire way to impress whoever you bring along.

At the end of the day (or night), there’s no other city in the world quite like New York. This grand metropolis is all about experiencing the unexpected, immersing yourself in its dizzying diversity, soaking up the vast opportunities on offer and feeling a mega city heartbeat pulse through your veins.

Ultimately, surviving a New York business trip comes down to good planning, good intel, and a good attitude. We can almost guarantee you’ll be in awe of the city, and if you don’t come away from New York inspired, you just didn’t do it right.

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